Cyclists “Light Up the Night” for mental health

The ride began at Science World and took participants around the Stanley Park seawall. - Photos courtesy of Lauren Eadie

An SFU alumna’s initiative has spurred Vancouverites to get colourful to help benefit grey matter.

Lauren Eadie, a 2014 graduate, organized what she hopes to be the first of an annual event called Light Up the Night, where participants adorn their bicycles with glow sticks and ride through the night to raise awareness for mental illnesses.

Eadie, who was a kinesiology major, now works as a personal trainer and rehabilitator. She said the motivation for Light Up the Night came from earlier this year, when she was having patients referred to her by doctors who felt that physical training would be good for their mental health.

“It was the first time I had experienced people coming up with not physical disabilities, but mental illnesses,”explained Eadie.

“A lot of the time, doing these activities and exercises puts you in a meditative state of mind, a moving meditation that some people might need.”

The result was a 20 km bike ride held on Sept. 12 from Science World to Second Beach, a purposely flat route. Dozens of people showed up, ranging from riders in their early twenties to more than a few senior cyclists. Once they completed the ride, a glow yoga session was held at Second Beach.

Since Eadie was busy taking care of all the details of the night, she was not able to ride herself. She asked Dylan Martyn, a good friend she made in residence her first year at SFU, to lead the ride and maintain safety.

Martyn said it was easy for him to get involved when Eadie asked, and that his biking effort was partially for himself.

“I just care about talking about mental health to the Greater Vancouver area, because a lot of people — men in particular — have struggles talking about their mental issues,” he said.

“Our philosophy is that things like exercise can go a long way when it comes to dealing with your mental health issues.”

Eadie was main driving force behind the event, with support from friends, family, and sponsors. She added that she was going to participate in it even if only ten people she knew also did so. Now, she is looking towards capitalizing on the momentum of the event and using it moving forward.

“I hope to keep this event growing, and have it get bigger and bigger, and I hope that people talk about it,” she said. “I want to make this event something that everyone feels that they want to participate in.”

The next steps may include getting officially registered as a charity and growing this from one woman’s idea, taking the success of the inaugural event and using it to make next year even better.

In the meantime, Eadie will be doing her best to try and remove the stigma that surrounds people who suffer from mental health issues.

“These things are not forever,” she said. “It does not define a person.”